Archive for January 15th, 2011

I had such a fab time yesterday. Got to do one of my favourite things…..walkabout through London.

city of london

welcome to the City of London

I received a fab xmas present from my employer, a set of ‘London City Walks’ cards….50 in all. These cards direct you on walks through different areas of London….right up my alley (excuse the pun)…. 🙂

city of london

City Walks of London - 50 in all 🙂

So for the next year I will have at least one adventure a week….awesome!!

But first… it was to Canary Wharf to see the London Ice Sculpting Festival.

london ice sculpting festival january 2011

a polar bear

brilliant. I am so glad I went. I haven’t been to Canary Wharf in such a long time, preferring to walk about through the old city and Westminster, of which is there is much to explore. But I can see the modern skyline from where I live and it always looks tempting, so the ice-sculpting was a great excuse to get back out that way.

I headed off to Canary Wharf station on the Jubilee line and was reminded once again how brilliant our underground train service really is. Canary Wharf station is awesome, modern, wide open spaces and very bright and clean.  I love the older underground tube stations with their history and grubbiness, but I have to say that some of the more modern tube stations like Westminster and Cnary Wharf are lovely.

london ice sculpting festival

the escalators at Canary Wharf tube station

The plaza at the station is brilliant; with a fab view across the docks and a display of clocks on the plaza, with the skyscrapers towering above; all steel and glass reflecting each other and the weather, it is a great place to meander.  Lots of walkways, sidewalk cafes, pubs and food carts and a delightful Japanese style feng-sui garden…tinkling waterfalls and gushing fountains in a tranquil setting of trees and grass…lovely.

gardens at Canary Wharf

I can just imagine sitting out there on a bright sunny summers day.

Canary Wharf is a hive of activity, the financial district; a new kid on the block the area has a history that goes back hundreds of years, albeit newly regenerated with huge towering buildings that could overwhelm you but don’t,

canary wharf london ice sculpting festival

towering blocks of glass and steel; a modern architectural dream

 an enormous underground shopping precinct – a rabbits warren of high street shops, cafes, restaurants, banks and designer stores.  You could quite easily live there and never go without.

Lunchtime sees the hurry scurry of the folks who work in the tall buildings that surround the area.  And the last 3 days in London, have seen the Ice Sculpting festival, both indoors and out.  Great fun they are, the carving a treat to watch, using different tools to chop, chisel, buff, drill or saw the sculptors coax their creations out of the ice.

After that I made my way back down the massive escalators, stopped off to chat to the old gent who was busking in the great hall,

London Underground Buskers - Canary Wharf

 then onto the tube and off to London Bridge

london bridge

London Bridge....still standing after all these years 🙂

…which I am pleased to say is not yet ‘fallen down’ 🙂  Taking a walk across to the centre for a view of Tower Bridge and the HMS Belfast,

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

 I was reminded of the very first day I walked into London…another story! 🙂  Friday was a bleak and blustery day and I tried to make use of my new toy – aka as the vidcam that I got from ‘Sam’ta…but it records sound only too well and although the views are great the noise is not! Will now have to learn how to edit videos.

From there I made my way into Borough Market,

Borough Market, Southwark, London

 a bustling thriving community of family owned stalls offering a selection of produce that ranges from cheese, vegetables, home-made pies,

Pieminster's homemade pies at Borough Market

meats, wines, to bread and flowers amongst others.  All family owned stalls, the market has been around virtually since the days of Dickens and Chaucer and the current Victorian market stands on a medieval site that acted as a gateway to the City.  The aroma wafting through the air is mouth-wateringly tempting and I had to bury my head and get out fast…before I emptied my purse!  Then I stepped back through the ages into Southwark Cathedral, the oldest gothic church building in London.

southwark cathedral london

a gothic church - Southwark Cathedral; a place of worship since 606AD

  If you have never been to Southwark Cathedral….make a plan and go. It is exquisite. It has been a place of worship since 606AD when it was a convent, and a cathedral since 1905AD.  The likes of Gower, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jonson, Harvard and Dickens are among those associated with the church.

Then it was round the corner to see the Golden Hinde; a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s famed galleon, whence he sailed the 7 seas.

drakes golden hinde southwark

replica of Sir Francis Drake's famous galleon; the Golden Hinde

 It’s funny actually, I have walked this route ahhh probably 4 times already and each time the weather is overcast and moody!!   Then a short walk along a Dickensian cobbled alleyway past the remains/ruins of the Winchester Palace to the Clink Prison.

The prison, known as ‘The Clink’ from the 15th Century was owned by the successive Bishops of Winchester, and from the 12th century until it’s destruction in 1780, its inmates have ranged from priest to prostitute.

the clink prison museum

The Clink Prison Museum, Southwark London

A grisly yet fun place to visit, it takes you back to the days when whole families were jailed coz the man of the house had gotten into debt and when unable to pay, the whole family, kids and all were tossed into the goal….sometimes to die there.

the clink prison museum

not a good place to die........

 I did say it was grisly.  The name derives from the sound of the chains with which the prisoners were detained…..the ‘clink’ of heavy chains.

Next I walked beneath along ancient cobbled streets, through a dank dark tunnel to The Anchor Pub, past a wee shop named ‘Little Dorrit’ as in Dickens, and in my opinion not nearly old enough looking to warrant the name!

Little Dorrit.....a Dickensian name

 then from there to Neal’s Yard Dairy where I stopped to partake of the cheese and sourdough bread on offer.  I love sourdough bread and recall it with delightful clarity from my days in Ireland.

neals yard dairy borough market southwark london

Neal's Yard Dairy, 6 Park Street, Southwark est. 1979 Covent Garden and opened in Borough market 1992

Then I made my way back to Borough Market, along another ancient road to the 1677 George Inn.  The last of it’s kind, and still a lively pub – it is delightfully ancient.

george inn southwark london national trust

16th Century George Inn

Low ceilings with heavy wooden beams that have a smokey look, dark corners and narrow stairways onto ancient landings that just so take you back in time.

george inn southwark london

dark narrow staircases and low oak-beamed ceilings

When I arrived I got chatting to the bloke behind the bar and he offered to take a photo of me behind the bar…so I zipped in and stood with my hand on the ale pump just a two chaps stepped up to the bar.  So just for fun I said ‘Serving gentleman’….and they took me for real!! The one chap started to ask for something …… hahahaha. I had such a laugh. Told them I was just a spectator and the real barman would be with them as soon as he had finished taking my photo. 🙂 great fun!

george inn southwark london

...now serving Gentlemen!!

While I was exploring the Inn, probably going into places I wasn’t meant to be by the looks on people faces, the heavens opened and the rain came down in bucket loads.  Ok so no further traipsing for me then. So instead I ordered a Baileys on ice and a packet of crisps and sat at the window sipping my drink and watching the rain….musing on how lucky I am to live in this fantastically fascinating city, where you can sit and have a drink in a pub that dates from the 16th century; and in their day, frequented by the likes of Dickens, Shakespeare and Chaucer! 

What a life!

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